Wednesday, August 3, 2016.
Carson Wysocki doesn’t feel any butterflies stepping on stage at The Smith Center. Not even before a packed crowd.
“I just go out and have a smile on my face and think, ‘This is it,’” the Las Vegas native says. “I just have that feeling this is something I’m supposed to be doing.”
Believe it or not, Wysocki is 11 years old. Alongside 99 other children and teenagers on July 29, he had the rare opportunity to sing and dance on stage at Reynolds Hall in The Smith Center, the culmination of this year’s Camp Broadway program. This annual summer camp at The Smith Center provides theater-loving kids ages 10 to 17 with five full days of performance workshops, all taught by working professionals with extensive experience, including on Broadway, film and TV.
All of the camp’s openings were filled this year with a collection of new and returning campers, many of them locals and some visiting Las Vegas for the summer. The week’s extensive activities focused on the elements of musical theater, including singing, dancing, acting and character sessions.
Separate groups of campers learned two shows inspired by the popular musicals “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” and “Legally Blonde.” After just five days of rehearsals, they performed the shows at a Broadway Family Finale at the end of the week.
“Every year we see young campers taking on complex dancing and singing arrangements and showing tremendous talent, which they might not have other opportunities to develop,” says Myron Martin, president and CEO of The Smith Center. “Learning these skills and actually performing on stage plays a vital role in building children’s confidence and passion for the arts. Education is in our DNA at The Smith Center, and Camp Broadway serves as an important component of that.”
Wysocki, returning to Camp Broadway for the second year, says he enjoys meeting other kids his age who share his love for theater and can swap feedback.
“I learned this week to always keep a smile, practice and practice, and to work together as an ensemble,” he says, adding that he aspires to become a professional actor. “Camp Broadway is a great thing and I think everyone should do it.”
Sixth-grade camper Saniya Jackson, who has applied to the performance-focused magnet school K.O. Knudson Middle School, says she learned new choreography at Camp Broadway and built her confidence with performing. With this her first year at camp, she felt giddy every moment backstage, she says.
“It’s like actually being in a Broadway production,” she says. “Arts and theater is just who I am. It’s so fun to act out different characters and to make wonderful new friends.”
Based in New York, Camp Broadway offers summer camps, workshops and performance opportunities in select cities across the U.S. Camp Broadway recently received the prestigious Drama Desk Award, recognizing its 20-year history of impacting the cultural lives of children. The Smith Center also hosts Camp Broadway Shining Stars, a summer program for children ages 6 to 9. This program occurred earlier in July, with children participating in five half-day sessions and performing a show inspired by the musical 42nd Street.
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